World\Middle East

7,350 people start evacuating 4 Syrian towns under fresh deal

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-14 16:07
7,350 people start evacuating 4 Syrian towns under fresh deal

People evacuated from the two villages of Kefraya and al-Foua, after an agreement reached between rebels and Syria's army, ride a bus at insurgent-held al-Rashideen, Aleppo province, Syria April 14, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

DAMASCUS -- As many as 7,350 people started evacuating four besieged Syrian towns Friday under a mass evacuation deal concluded recently between Syrian government and rebels, a military source told Xinhua.

A total of 60 busses carrying around 2,350 rebels and their families evacuated the town of Madaya and nearby areas toward rebel-held areas in the northwestern province of Idlib, the source said, on condition of anonymity.

In return, around 75 busses and 20 ambulances carrying 5,000 people, including fighters, left the Shiite towns of Kafraya and Foa in Idlib countryside toward government-controlled areas in the northern city of Aleppo.

The evacuation process will continue from the aforementioned towns in the next hours.

The actual implementation of the deal started on Thursday, by a swap of detainees between the rebels and the government forces.

On Thursday, the rebels in Idlib released four children and eight women they kidnapped from the Shiite towns of Kafraya and Foa, and returned the bodies of eight government forces in exchange of the release of 19 rebels detained by the pro-government fighters in Kafraya and Foa.

The low-scale swap took place through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC).

The big evacuation deal, reached late last month, include the evacuation of rebels and their families from the besieged towns of Madaya and Zabadani, which are under the rebel control northwest of capital Damascus, as well as the two Shiite towns of Kafraya and Foa, both pro-government towns besieged by the rebels in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Madaya and Zabdani as well as other surrounding towns are under the control of rebel groups near the Lebanese borders.

The government besieged the towns two years ago, allowing few aid convoys to enter under the supervision of humanitarian organizations in coordination with the SARC.

In the north, Kafraya and Foa are two Shiite towns besieged by the rebels in Idlib, which has largely fallen to the rebel control, mainly the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

According to the deal, around 3,800 rebels and their families should leave the towns of Madaya, Zabadani and the rebels in Idlib should allow 8,000 people from the two Shiite towns to leave.

Several previous deals saw the evacuation of people from Kafraya and Foa, as well as Zabadani and Madaya, but the current deal seems a comprehensive one that will see a large-scale evacuations from all the peoples in the four towns.


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